Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 8-13



“life rolls on....life rolls on…”

 Little Big Town’s lyrics were stuck in my head as the week began.

It really didn’t matter how worried and out of sorts we felt (did you read last week's post?) "Life rolls on" and there were things to do. There is often no time like the present and some jobs cannot wait until we are in the mood to do them. 

Such was the case for nearly everything on the week’s to-do list.

Monday was broiler processing day, regardless of the weather. We had momentarily considered changing up when Sunday’s review of the weather showed a good chance of rain. But, that would have meant more than a little logistical juggling. Much of the week could NOT be re-scheduled. And, how bad could the rain be, anyway?

2.25 inches of much-needed rain

I must admit, we had some serious second thoughts when we got ready to begin. But, by then we were committed. In preparation for processing, the broiler’s feed had been removed Sunday afternoon, the scalder was full of water and everything stood at the ready.

It took a little soggy teamwork, but we got the batch done in record time. (we just get faster and faster) It looked like the week was off to a good start.

even a rain-suit didn't keep him dry!

Ironically, the rain ended just as we finished and we were able to get to the rest of the regular Monday jobs in the afternoon.

While I was doing afternoon chores, I got the phonecall that changed everything. Did you read THIS? Neither one of us could believe that news. The whole experience seemed more than a little surreal. Now, we will have to wait and see what happens at the Boss’ scan at the end of October. But, for now, we can relax...and get back to work. I realize that sounds more than a little oxymoronic.

Tuesday’s to-do list was fairly full.

broiler at field pen


First, the broilers needed to go in the field pen so we would be ready for the chicks arriving later in the week. We needed to get them situated in the field pen before we could focus on the bigger job.
catching broilers is my job
I have no idea what these guys are doing

August means it is time to start working on Project Lambchop for the following year. 

Working on “project lambchop” means that the ram (in this case, Angus) needs to be turned in with the ewe flock. However, it is not simply a matter of opening the gate. (although I suppose you could use that approach) A little advance preparation provides the best outcome.

Before we could let Angus have his way with the ladies, there were a few other things that needed our attention.

off to the stockyard
First, we needed to get rid of the ewes that we weren’t going to breed this season. There were just three to cull. One was ancient, one hadn’t bred at all, and the third one lost her babies two seasons in a row (and she is wild and unmanageable). Since we’re not running a charity ward for “hayburners”, the culled ewes would head to the stockyard. And, it HAD to be done on Tuesday, because the sale barn is only opened on Tuesdays and Fridays. And, they would rather have the sheep for the Tuesday sale, because Fridays are big cattle days. (and they’re not terribly fond of sheep anyway)
pretty ewe

We ran all the ewes to the barn, sorted out the ones to haul and de-wormed the rest. This will assure that they are as healthy as possible as breeding season starts. The next step in the breeding process would have to wait until we returned from town.

ready for Project Lambchop 2018

A quick trip to the stockyard went off without a hitch. That’s always a good thing! One part of the project completed, we made guesses about just how much the “old hay-burners” might bring. It’s never a whole lot, but it beats paying to feed them. We wouldn’t know for certain until we got the check from the stockyard.

at the stockyard


The next part of the project was to get Angus ready for the big intro.  He was outfitted with his marking harness and de-wormed. 

I think he knows something's up

he's so handsome!

ram marker

THEN we opened the gate.

hello, ladies!

Project Lambchop 2018 was underway!

...and that was pretty anti-climactic.

We left any future lambchop production in Angus’ capable hooves. He knows what to do and when to do it, so we could check another project off the list and go back to harvesting zucchini (and other stuff).

hilling potatoes
Eventually it dried out enough for the Boss to get the tractor in the garden. By tilling and hilling the potatoes, he keeps the weed pressure down (at least a little) and allows the tubers room to grow under each plant. They will be ready for harvest sometime in October.

The rain really made a big difference in the garden. Check out these beans!
Tuesday morning

Tuesday afternoon
(yep, the SAME day)

Wednesday morning

Friday morning
They will be ready to pick by mid-September


For the first time in many years, we haven’t had great lettuce production. Between the heat and the bugs...and my ongoing neck pain, the greens have suffered greatly. (read...there is NO lettuce) And, while our customers are getting more than a little anxious, I must admit, it is nice not to spend the entire day bent in half picking lettuce leaves.

Since I wasn’t picking lettuce and the Boss needed diesel fuel before he could get back to mowing, we decided to head out in the middle of a Friday and have a “lunch-date”. While this may seem unremarkable to most folks, it’s nearly un-heard of around here. We generally spend all day Friday picking and processing. (I must say, I could get used to the change!)

stockyard check
On our way out, we picked up the mail which included the check from the stockyard for the culled ewes. Before opening the envelope, the Boss likes to guess the amount. He made his guess. I peeked inside. WOW!

Uh, you were wrong.

He figured he guessed too high. (not) 

Once, years ago, we took a poor, pathetic sheep to the stockyard and got a whopping $9. I kid you not. $9.  That experience is always in the back of our minds as we haul sheep to the sale.

This check was for more than nine dollars. A whole lot more than nine dollars! We got nearly a dollar a pound for old culled ewes.  That was nearly THREE times what we had anticipated when we dropped the old ewes at the stockyard. What a great surprise! It was nearly enough to cover the monthly feed bill. Which, coincidentally, arrived in the same mail delivery.

Still rejoicing about the “big check”, we stopped by Subway to pick up lunch. (lunch dates around here are never fancy) More rejoicing when we found we had accumulated enough points for a FREE lunch!

All in all, a pretty good Friday!


We had kept our eyes on the weather all week...


those foggy August mornings continue

grey day

Saturday sunrise at Sam's

As the ground slowly absorbed Monday’s torrents, it was still pretty soggy. And, every day held the chance for more rainfall...the forecast did not look good for Saturday’s Market.

lots of veggies
...and tomatoes are back!
Other than a few sprinkles, the weather held, the people came. And, we had a great day. (even without lettuce) There were a lot of hugs and much rejoicing with our customer-friends over the good news from early in the week. I am not exaggerating when I say that the love and support we get from the Market truly keeps us going. These folks are the best…the absolute best.

If you can’t get to the Market, at least you can visit virtually… Click HERE for the Boss’ photos for the week. 

You know, this was probably the best week we have had here on the hill in quite some time!

Hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for stopping by. Come back and “visit” real soon.

And, THANK YOU for the outpouring of love and kindness. 
Y’all are awesome!
 
the monarchs are here
on their way to Mexico
P.S. I think I would be remiss if I didn’t make some mention of the events that took place in Charlottesville yesterday. Sadly, our beautiful state made worldwide news, and not in a good way. Read this. 

I find everything about this deeply disturbing. My family goes way back in Virginia history. Nearly 400 years. Those names in the family tree appear in history books and on landmarks all around the area. For better or worse, Virginia wouldn’t be what it is without those names.  The fact that there are people who use the past to promote their continued current agenda of racism, bigotry and hatred simply breaks my heart. 

I have no idea how this should be addressed. I have no idea if the divisiveness and troubles of society can be resolved. But, I think we can start here. 

I leave you with "Pray for Peace" by Reba McEntire.


Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 11, 2017

What Questions SHOULD I Be Asking You?


When a lady walked up to me at the market and said

WHAT questions SHOULD I be asking you?

My first thought was SERIOUSLY? You really expect me to grow the food, harvest the food, package the food, market the food all in order to sell the food AND now I need to read your mind? That is definitely "above my pay grade"!

But, I didn’t say that.
Nope.
Didn’t even roll my eyes.
Because another part of my job is to educate and enlighten while representing the farm in a pleasant way.

So, I checked my tone (and, more importantly, my facial expressions) and said, “I guess that depends on what you want to know. What would you like to know?”

Her answer nearly blew my mind.

I don’t know. I only know I’m supposed to ask you questions. but, I’m not sure what they are. Do other people ask you questions? WHAT do they ask you?

Wow. Just wow.

Over the years, I have fielded all sorts of questions. The quiz sessions can be great, interactive and fun. Although, other times they seem more like an interrogation and attack on my integrity. But, they help me streamline my conversational skills, hone my message and sharpen my wit…and on occasion deeply feel the need for another cup of coffee (or possibly something stronger). Did you read this one?

However, this was a whole new ball game.

Currently, folks are being told they need to ask questions (lots of questions) regarding their food.

questions like this make me just a little crazy
answers to this survey will NOT assure you of food safety

They are told they need to be concerned about farming practices and food production and they need to hold farmers accountable for all sorts of things. However, all too often they aren’t told exactly WHAT to ask…or what answer they are seeking.  And, if they don’t know what to ask, (and have a general idea of the desired answer) there is absolutely no way they will benefit from the answers…regardless of the information. And, just how does one hold unknown farmers "accountable"? All this focus with no substance leads to unfounded consumer fear.   Did you read THIS ONE?

Direct-marketing gives us the chance to connect with the customers and allay their fears (when they know what they are) but, most farmers don’t get this opportunity on a regular basis. So, I don’t take these conversations lightly. For one brief moment, I am the face of all of Agriculture to the concerned customer. This both a great privilege and an overwhelming responsibility.

I count on interesting Market conversations

Keeping this in mind, I am conversant on each and every production decision we make. And, I even understand many of those that we do not practice. But, when I use phrases like “food production” and “farming practices”, sometimes I see concern growing in their eyes. Perhaps my explanations sound too technical.  More than once, I have been identified as being part of “Big Ag” when nothing could be further from the truth. If I would only use the magical “O” word (that would be Organic), it would make everything better. (can’t…if you make more than $5,000 annually, you must be certified by USDA…and that is another post). And, the whole subject of organics is one more area of public misunderstanding.  The customers want to hear that the food offered at the Market is homegrown without  the use of any chemicals, pesticides or modern technology. Which, in reality, is impossible.

The folks that come to the Market with their list of questions don’t really want to hear that America’s food supply is safer and more affordable than anywhere else in the world. They’re hung up on food recalls and the reports of scary sounding chemicals and the possibility of inhumane treatment of animals…or in this case…just “something”. (we eventually pieced together that she wanted an assurance that food from the market wasn't like grocery store food. Grocery store food? She seemed to think that the store actually had some part in food production)  They’ve heard bits and pieces through the tangled maze of the internet, great-aunt Martha and the current popular food gurus (nobody should give the "foodbabe" any credence whatsoever) and they’re scared and confused. Occasionally, they are angry and belligerent and convinced that farmers everywhere are trying to kill them while making exorbitant profits. (wrong, oh, so wrong) As a vendor, it is part of my job to educate the seekers and placate the grumpy.

Believe me, Saturday mornings can be a real challenge!

I don’t know how folks who have never visited a working farm (of any kind) could possibly think they know anything about farming, but I’m pretty sure that Hollywood and Madison Avenue have affected the imaginations of the American buying public. For the record…those guys and gals don’t have a clue! The media portrayal of farms is woefully inaccurate.  In reality, Agriculture is a widely diverse science, providing millions of jobs as well as food and shelter for all of us. There are huge farming operations and tiny urban gardens and countless operations in between. All of which play a vital part in the diverse foodstuffs we take for granted.

Part of me feels that our customers need the whole picture. That they should be educated on pesticides and biotechnology (GMOs) and all sorts of farming practices. Someone should explain that organic does not mean chemical/pesticide/additive-free.  And, quite honestly, EVERYBODY needs to learn the actual definition of the word chemicalClick here.

I would gladly share my hard-earned knowledge. But, for the most part, they don’t want this information.

They want to continue to think that lambs are always cute and that any and all spraying is bad. That chemicals of any kind will kill you and that GMOs are certainly Satan’s spawn while the evil Monsanto corporation is trying to either poison the world or control it. On the other hand, they want to believe that organic equals pure as the Garden of Eden, while natural means harmless and that anecdotal evidence is on a par with scientific fact. That small farms are always “better” than big ones…and you should never, ever eat anything whose name you don’t recognize or pronounce. The list could go on...

…and you know what? None of these things are true.

NOT one.

Did you find that shocking?  Then, you may want to re-consider what you think you know about food and farming.

The fact is, the majority of adults in this country are SO far removed from any firsthand agricultural knowledge that they will quite possibly believe anything they hear when it comes to farming and food production. This gets more than a little confusing and concerning. When we have no knowledge of a subject, we become fearful and gullible. And, for some perverse reason, humans seem to actually like to hear bad news about others. So, rumors and mis-information spread like wildfire.

There are farmers who capitalize on this fear of the unknown. Their idea of a marketing strategy is to make all farming practices dissimilar to their own look scary and the farmers utilizing them out to be “the bad guys”. They perpetuate the mis-use and misunderstanding of buzzwords and vague terminology. To my mind this is simply bad form. Part of the reason I started blogging years ago was to help bridge the gap between farm and urbanity.  “Know your farmer, know your food” and all that jazz. I have connections to folks engaged in all sorts of agricultural endeavors, utilizing diverse practices in a wide variety of locations. And, I can honestly say, I have learned something from every single one of those people. 

Knowledge is power. You will not fear something you do understand.

…and since food is how we fuel our bodies, we would ALL do well to understand something of its production. A basic understanding of Agricultural terms would go a long way to eliminating the fear factor and furthering an appreciation both for the food on the table and the farmers who produce it.

If you have the opportunity to speak to a farmer, particularly one involved with growing the food YOU eat, don't squander that chance by thinking you have to ask questions to "hold them accountable" or sound impressive by using every single buzzword...but, make the most of that conversation and learn something. You may learn about food preparation and/or preservation...nutrition...food safety...the possibilities are endless.

You might just find that you expand your horizons, open your mind...and change your life.

No matter WHAT questions you ask.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

You're Not Gonna Believe This


Forget amusement parks and rollercoasters...since early March, we’ve been on the wildest ride of all...

...and it just took another turn...

Last Monday, time stood still after something “lit up” on the Boss’ most recent scan.

The PA talked of transplant surgery and chemotherapy and ablation. She had a concerned look on her face and patted the Boss’ shoulder as she explained the news. We left the office with a dark cloud hanging over our heads and an overwhelming sense of despair as we faced some frightening considerations in a most uncertain future.

We would have to wait for the final read and the results from the bloodwork. After the surgeon and his team looked at everything, they would schedule an appointment with the transplant team and things would proceed from there. They would call me with the results and the appointment date.

I can assure you that was the longest week of our lives.  It was if we were falling, falling through the dark with no safe place to land. The possibilities were simply too grim for words. And, I won’t even attempt to tell you the gamut of emotions that we experienced in those seven days. Or how many tears were shed. So. Many. Tears.

When my phone lit up with the much anticipated, but most dreaded call, I hesitated to answer as I attempted to prepare myself for the news. I needed to be strong to take notes in order to transmit the details to the Boss.

However, there is no way I could have anticipated the conversation that followed.

The various teams had reviewed the report and the labs. (I had read all the reports myself even though I needed a dictionary...so I was familiar with the terms the PA used) They were in agreement with the conclusions.

Those spots that had concerned them in the initial read...the ones that “lit up”...weren’t quite so worrisome on further consideration. As a matter of fact, the exact wording from the report was that they were “favored perfusional”. That means they have something to do with changes in bloodflow...and they are NOT metastases! All the other results were normal and things looked good.

So...

All those scary considerations were suddenly off the table.

It had NOT spread. We would NOT be going to meet with the transplant team. The Boss was NOT facing a second major surgery. At least no time soon.

The doc wanted to keep a close eye on this (another scan sooner than previously planned) but, the team felt confident that all the results pointed to the fact that this was NOT the matter of grave concern as originally feared.

Wait a minute.

WHAT?

It was as if someone suddenly reached out and grabbed us back from the edge of the abyss. I’m not sure we’ve been able to assimilate the news.

The good news.

The amazing, tremendously great news.

Now, it’s not like the threat is not there...it’s not like the whole thing actually went away...but, it is in NO way as dire as anyone thought...so, we can actually breathe again...and go on with life.

It’s a bit anti-climactic. It’s more than a little overwhelming.

But, it’s GOOD NEWS!


So, rejoice with us. 

I feel like we should be singing and dancing.





Thank you for your expressions of concern and love...and your prayers.

It's GOOD news!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 8-6

the house on the hill
Careening through the thickening darkness, I turned Granddaddy’s big boat-like Caprice Classic toward home. Leaves skittered across the roadway, indicating an impending storm.  There was definitely an eerie feeling to the evening and I felt a sense of urgency to return to the security of the house.

But, I didn’t feel that sense of welcome...that sense of home...that I usually feel when I finally get to the lane after a day away from the hill.

As I headed down the hill to the creek, I could tell something was truly amiss. Driving was difficult and the road seemed rougher than usual. Suddenly it was pitch black. Fear gripped me as I felt the steering wheel give way. I was no longer in control of the vehicle!

A glance out the windshield revealed that the roadway was rapidly falling away from underneath the car. There were odd sounds from outside. Suddenly, I pitched down...down...with a horrific rending the car swayed over the precipice and then cracked in half before beginning a rapid descent into the creek bed below. The bridge was gone, the embankment had become a steep sided gorge and the meandering stream was now a torrent.

Screams evaporated before they could pass my lips. My heart stopped...and then began to beat hard and fast, nearly coming out of my chest. I flailed around, grasping for something...anything...that might stop my inevitable fall.

Wait.

What is this? 

My hand touched something.

Is that fabric?

My fingers clutched it, stroked it. I finally identified it.

The couch cushion.

I was on the couch!

Yes. It was a dream. All a dream.

And what a dream it was!

Every nerve in my body was a-tingle. For a moment, I lost my ability to breathe...to think...and I have no idea how fast my heartbeat was at that particular moment. It took quite some time for my vitals to return to normal.

A dream.

It was just a dream.

It seemed so real. I could feel the wind, sense the storm, hear the rushing water. But, it was a dream. Although, that rapid heart-rate was real, I can assure you.

What brought this on? And, really...what does it have to do with this week’s walkabout?

Nothing.

And, everything.

You see, Monday was the Boss’ first follow-up scan.

cool wall art at the restaurant
(but, Holsteins...in a burger place?)
The trip was uneventful. The imaging went well. We even went to lunch at this trendy, funky restaurant (where we were SO out of place) before returning to the hospital for the appointment.

When the PA popped her head in the door of the exam room to say that she’d be “right back after I check the images” a little alarm went off in my head.

It seemed a long time before she returned.

We chatted, she checked the incision site.

Then, she said something about centimeters.

Wait.

What?

Apparently I hadn’t been paying full attention. 

My hand went for my pen and notebook as she continued.

“3 new, small lesions…well within parameters…they will call them “indeterminate”, but given your history, there is some cause for concern… there are a number of treatment options…although transplant is the only curative option…we want you to see a hepatologist next to plan a course of action…”

I heard the words but couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I glanced over at the Boss. His ashen face revealed that he had also heard the words. I know him well enough to know that FEAR was causing him to shut down.  The “C” word has always terrified him. To have faced it once was one thing. To face it again (particularly so soon) was horrifying. To consider a repeat surgery and all the worries that follow a transplant. It was simply too much to comprehend.

She sent him to the lab for bloodwork and told us we would hear back in a few days. Then we would proceed from there.

The trip to the lab and the subsequent travel back over the mountain was nearly silent as each of us struggled to process the information we had just received.

It shouldn’t have been totally unexpected.

We are dealing with a horrible disease that doesn’t play fair. And, the odds are never truly in your favor.

He decided he didn’t want to talk about it.

At all.

And, if I couldn’t be positive, then I couldn’t talk about it either. Don’t tell anyone but the girls. Put them under orders not to talk about it either.

Okay.

That is NOT the way I wanted to deal with it…but, it was his issue, so he could make the rules. I would just try to be supportive.

However, my brain took that order and concocted the dream from the beginning of the post. The memory of it and the implications stuck with me all week coloring my mood and affecting my outlook. I was freaking out and beginning to think I was losing my mind. Life suddenly felt like that trip back home, dark, scary and totally out-of-control.

But, I couldn’t tell him (or anyone else) about it because…well, positive…we were supposed to be positive. (and that dream was anything but!) I don’t do well with internalizing emotions.

I’ve spent all week looking for “couch cushions”. 

I assume you understand I don’t mean that literally. But, I’ve been searching for something that would give me (us) some sense of security…something to hold onto…in what looks to be the scariest thing we’ve ever faced.

So far I’m still looking.

a trip up the Valley
past a beautiful view
We kept up with our work, going through the motions in a daze, but getting things done. We made a trip up the Valley to pick up some gorgeous lamb chops. (a big shout-out to Gore’s Meats…they are THE BEST!) we planted, we picked…we mowed. We went on.

But, the Market was SO hard. He wanted to keep it positive and not tell anyone.

So,we told far too many people “little, white lies”. And, I feel really bad about that. He does, too.

This is our blanket apology for not telling the truth.



We’re so sorry.




“How are you doing?” …should not have been answered with “okay”…”all right”…or “doin’ fine!” I don’t think we’ve been okay or all right in a long time. But, we certainly aren’t right now. I don’t really know what we should have said. But, we shouldn’t have shut out the concern from all those people we consider to be our dear friends.

Words fail to describe where we are as we stew in some weird sort of limbo, waiting to hear from the specialist to know what the next step might be. The report and labs did NOT include the scary word that they did back in March, so to my mind that is good news. The numbers aren’t bad. But, he’s still not convinced. 

…and we have not heard from the specialist’s office.

It’s easy to get busy in the task at hand and forget about the uncertainty of the future. Everything looks so normal.
mowing the gardens
And, then it suddenly comes crashing back down again, taking our breath away with the frightening possibilities.  It’s been a weird and somewhat exhausting week where everything is still the same and yet nothing will ever be “normal” again.

This time of year is hard anyway. The heat, the lack of rain, the bugs, the constant demand for our attention that draws us in many different directions. We should be planning ahead for next season, next year…but, the way ahead seems so precarious, so uncertain.

But, much of life is much the same.
beautiful sunrise

planting the last of the squash of 2017

potato plants


for every foggy morning in August
there is supposed to be a snow in December
This is #1...

goldfinch in top of pine out back


a sea of brassicas ready for planting


Saturday morning, I woke with a start. Gus was barking that “alert, alert…invader!” bark that he uses only when there is a varmint in the vicinity. He has been adapting to being the only guard dog on the hill and he has seemed more than a little befuddled as to what this requires of him. I had about given up on his ability to take over the night patrol and this was the first time I had heard any serious nocturnal barking since Ellie died. In actuality the noise was a good thing. But, he continued to bark while we loaded the trailer and the Boss prepared to head off to Market. That meant I got to confront whatever was inciting the riot.

I just hoped it wasn’t a skunk.

I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not a big fan of snakes, rats, ‘possums, ‘coons and all the other creatures that make up the “varmint” population on the hill. But, the thought of facing a potentially scared, angry skunk prior to the Market was quite worrisome. Can you imagine trying to explain that “perfume” all morning?

So, it was with much trepidation that I crept in behind Gus to peek behind the diesel cans. I could hear something growling and hissing in the relative quietness between Gus’ barks, so I was pretty sure it wasn’t a skunk. Check out the facebook video here.

It was a little ‘possum…with very large teeth.
angry 'possum


Before you tell me about the positives of 'possums, I know, I know…but, they eat chickens and eggs and make a horrible mess of feed and foodstuffs. They also carry diseases. So, he was dispatched with little fanfare. (reminder to varmints everywhere...don't mess with Mama...and Gus)

Gus headed out to the driveway for a much-deserved nap. And, I headed off to the Market.

It was a gorgeous day. There were lots of people. The folks from the Library put on a puppet show for the kids. All in all a great Market! Today is the beginning of Farmers’ Market week…so I hope that you will take this opportunity to visit the Market…even if just virtually. 

I’d like to think I will write some posts especially for the occasion, but in case I don’t…read THIS ONE.  Be sure to follow the links for a whole series on Farmers’ Markets. 

I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 

Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring. Thanks for “being there”. Again, we apologize for not being honest with y’all…and we truly appreciate your concern and support! (and we will keep you posted)

the farm in summer

Come back and “visit” again real soon.




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sunday Walkabout 7-30

** We were "internet-less" from Friday around lunch-time until Monday afternoon and I couldn't get this post to load with my phone. But, better late than never...**
dry grazing conditions


We’ve reached that point in the summer where the lack of rain and the profusion of weeds become overwhelming. And, the bugs….oh, my word…the BUGS! 

harlequin beetles

Everywhere you look something is not going quite like it should. The age-old combination of work and worry makes for more than a few testy conversations. There are more than a few uncertainties that demand some sort of resolution that seems just out of reach.

the honeysuckle smells so good

The Boss thinks we should be ever hopeful. I think we need to be realistic. And, that brings us back to tense and testy...

The heat made outdoor work miserable. However, the truth of the adage “if you don’t work, you don’t eat” is unescapable on our miniscule operation. So, we kept plugging away.
the leaves on the birch tree look like lace
...thanks to the Japanese beetles

...hoping against hope that rain would come...

When it looked possible, we headed out to do harvest any and all vegetables that would be negatively impacted by the potential wind and torrential downpours that come with summer storms.

A check of the tomatoes revealed that not only were they not ripening with any speed, (read…it was a stretch to find anything to harvest) there was obviously a problem with the fruit.
doesn't look too tasty,
does it?

Blossom end-rot is an indicator of a calcium deficiency. It generally shows up early in the season when the plants are stressed by too much water and cool temperatures. Imagine my surprise to find that it can also occur when the plants experience too LITTLE water and HOT temperatures. Simply watering more wouldn’t resolve the problem, the plants needed more calcium. (and magnesium to aid in the mineral uptake)






I stood in the garden, googling the plant symptoms and solutions, and I was happy to find that a few Tums at the base of each plant could potentially resolve the problem. (I wasn't eager to make an emergency trip to town) With an eye on the sky, I spent the next hour on my hands and knees administering Tums and Epsom salts to the tomato plants. We hoped that drip tape would take the nutrients down toward the roots and that the next flush of fruits would be healthy. A good rain would help with mineral uptake as well. But, my hurried efforts were in vain as the storm simply evaporated.
never expected this to be a gardening tool!


All week we watched rain chances dissipate as storms hit the mountains. The county to the north seemed to be getting all the rain. I’m here to tell you that “rain-envy” is a real thing. Tense and testy seemed to be the pervasive and prevailing mood combo throughout the area.

But, there was good news among the heat and humidity. We could actually find success despite the drought. (I’m trying to be hopeful…seriously, Boss!)

The corn is tasseling and it won’t be long until it ripens.
corn tassels

Wind carries the pollen
down...

to the silks
to make corn on the cob




The potatoes are actually sprouting! That does seem a miracle, since they have absolutely no irrigation on them whatsoever.
potato sprouts

And, the puny lambs we put in the barn for special care and consideration have gained a bit of weight.
She actually looks a little better now

Considering that I figured they both would die...more than once...their survival is noteworthy.
When we worked the lambs in anticipation of hauling the last batch to the processor’s, it was obvious that two weren’t doing well. They were about ¼ the weight of the rest! Lest you think I am exaggerating, they weighed 36.4 and 37.6 respectively. The lambs that we hauled weighed well over 100#.

You may wonder why the difference. There are always a couple that are “challenged”. In this case, it was an orphan and the last lamb born. Despite the fact that I am a pretty good “lamb-mom”, milk replacer just doesn’t nourish lambs as well as true mother’s milk. And, those late-in-the-season lambs never seem to thrive like the early ones. Sadly, these small animals tend to be magnets for parasites and disease, rarely thriving and quite often dying.

We had hoped by putting them in the barn and giving them a little TLC, we would get them on the road to recovery. Or, at the very least, if they died, we would be able to dispose of the corpses easily.
After ten days of close supervision, one had gained nearly four pounds and the other had gained two. It looks as if they are recovering from the anemia brought on by the parasitic overload. I’d like to see them weigh 50 pounds before I return them to the stresses of the field. But, that looks to be a slow process. And, any real success remains to be seen. At this point, we’ll stick with the status quo and just wait and hope they continue to grow.

It seemed that every single rain storm was going around us. Until late Friday. Then, it poured.

And, poured some more.
RAIN
(no hail or wind, thankfully)

I thought I could use a rainy afternoon to do some filing...
Remy had other ideas!



Rain on Saturday morning is NOT a good thing. but, when it ends a drought and ushers in some cooler weather (and they promise that the weather pattern is changing) we cannot complain. Actually, I suppose we shouldn't complain anyway, but we are human.

everything was soggy on Saturday morning

However, we have moisture and cooler temperatures… (no matter how short-lived that combination may be)
It looks (and feels) like September

So, I hope you’re having a Happy Sunday! 


Thanks for stopping by. I hope you will “visit” us again soon.